Halloween III: Season of the Witch Review
Written by Zeus on sometime between 2000-2003
After Halloween, John Carpenter was burnt out -- but the studio demanded a sequel. So at two in the morning, with the aid of a six pack of beer, Carpenter came up with the Luke/Leia plot twist of Halloween II. It was, he said, "The only idea I could think of." Carpenter wanted to create an anthology of unrelated Halloween movies, rather than a series sequels as mindless as a mob of Zombies. It was an awesome idea, but something went HORRORibly wrong. Mwahah. Mwahah. Mwahahahaha. Ha.
Like many horror films, Halloween III: Season of the Witch has an intriguing opening (and a shitty ending -- but we'll get to that later.) A man clutching a Halloween mask is rushed to the hospital. Someone who looks like a politician sneaks into his room and rips apart his skull. The alcoholic Dr. Dan Challis (Tom Atkins, hereafter referred to as "Dr. Chunkypants") chases after the politician, who goes outside, gets in his car, douses himself with gasoline and blows himself up.
Dr. Chunkypants rushes to the nearest bar, where he meets up with the victim's daughter, Elly Grimbridge (Stacy Nelkin). With the aid of a six pack of beer (sound familiar?), Chunky and Elly trace her father's last steps to the largest mask maker in the world, Silver Shamrock Novelties.
This commercial makes you want to:
- Buy masks.
- Swallow your tongue.
AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR:
Every five minutes, the camera focuses on a Silver Shamrock commercial. Kids love 'em, despite the fact that with a selection of three masks, they end up looking like 1/3rd of their friends. Even worse is the jingle, sung to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down, which burrows into your mind like a brain parasite:
"Happy Happy Halloween! Halloween! Halloween! Happy Happy Halloween! Silver Shamrock." [Right click and 'Save Link' to download MP3]
I was struck with an eerie sense of Déjà Vu as our heroes drove to Silver Shamrock. Sure enough, Halloween III was filmed in and around my old home town of Eureka. That made it personal.
Dr. Chunkypants: "Silver Shamrock's employees are predominantly Irish."
Elly: "Irish Halloween masks?"
Dr. Chunkypants: "Hey, it's California, you never know."
Wow, what authentic dialog. It's true, us Californians walk around rolling our eyes at 'those wacky Californians.' And in Rand McNally, they wear hats on their feet and hamburgers eat people.
You know that expression, "Where the sun don't shine"? Yeah, it's Eureka.
Anyway, they arrive at the company town of Santa Mira, a farming community bought whole by Conal Cochran, owner of Silver Shamrock and lover of practical jokes. Locals in Santa Mira are suspicious, security cameras are everywhere and the town curfew is 6:00PM. (Yet somehow, the Chunkster manages to buy booze after dark.)
Dr. Chunkypants's coroner friend Teddy (Wendy Wesserberg) agrees to do an autopsy on the body of the suicide skull-crusher. It's a shame the charming Wendy never did anything else, she had the best lines in the movie: "You don't just pull somebody's skull apart without a little lower arm strength." Something's up -- she can't find any human remains. "We wasted two days doing an autopsy on a car!" Oh Wendy, you little minx. Before my appreciation could blossom into a crush and spiral into unhealthy obsession, Teddy is killed by a politician armed with a drill. Bastard!
Dwight Yankem: Blind Dentist.
Dr. Chunkypants and Elly get a hotel room where they... God, how to describe it? Bumping uglies can't quite convey the ugly. Making the beast with two backs doesn't begin to describe Tom Atkins's physique. But even worse than their "love scene" would be the full view of Chunkster's flat, double-wide midwestern ass luggage. For the brave of heart (and because I secretly hate you all) you can see what lies beneath the chunky pants.
In the next room, a woman dies a horrible death while tampering with the logo from a Silver Shamrock mask. A laser shoots from the logo, striking her in the mouth. Then a bug crawls out of her face-crater. Sorry, Movie, not even something that unexpectedly freakish could made up for the previous scene.
Late at night, Ethel would close the windows, block the crack under the door with a rolled up towel, and take a fat hit of lightsaber.
The next day, Conal Cochran gives a tour of Silver Shamrock (actually a milk factory in Lolita). Elly and Dr. Chunkypants tag along until they're kicked out for being meddling kids. Chunkypants, always the astute observer, FINALLY notices that the Silver Shamrock guards look EXACTLY like the politicians. Jinkies, let's call the police!
Too late -- the politicians nab Elly. Chunkypants searches the factory until he's caught by a politician. The Pants punches a hole through his attacker, exposing wires and yellow goo. Icky! The politicians were really robots all along (inspiring those behind the Reagan administration.) More robots arrive, dragging Chunkypants off to the "badguy gives away his plan" scene.
Turns out those mask lasers are powered by chips from a huge chunk of Stonehenge, hidden in Cochran's basement. "Ahaha. We had a TIME getting it here. You wouldn't BELIEVE how we did it." Ugh, why is he winking? What is he hinting at? Did he smuggle it rectally?
Conal Cochran demonstrates his evil scheme. A family is locked in a test room. Their son dons his Jack-o-Lantern mask and watches a preview of the "Big Giveaway," scheduled for 9PM. A pumpkin that resembles an Atari 2600 cinema flashes faster and faster until the mask laser melts the kid's head. Bugs and snakes squirm out of his mouth, killing his parents.
"Oh god... it's horrible... I can't stand it any longer -- SOMEBODY GET ME A BEER!"
...and that's it. THAT'S the evil scheme. Somebody call Superman, the fate of the world is at stake! Provided everyone bought the masks! And will watch the commercial! And are locked with their entire family in a test lab! Face it, Cochran, your plan sucks. Nintendo didn't need magic for their Pokémon commercials to send thousands of Japanese kids to the hospital. If you can smuggle Stonehenge into America, why not nuclear weapons?
Cochran: Ooh, good idea. Could they spew creepy-crawlies?
Zeus: You sicken me.
At this point it's too stupid for me to bother with details. Let's just say Dr. Chunkypants defeats Cochran his robot pals, finds a mysteriously mute Elly and rushes to warn the world before 9:PM.
Surprise! Elly is now a robot. Just not a very good one. She grabs Dr. Chunkypants' cheeks, causing him to crash the car. Most of Elly is thrown outside -- except for her arm, still gripping the door handle. Chunk stumbles outside in search of booze. Elly strikes again, grabbing his neck. Dr. Chunkypants knocks her head off with a crowbar, then gets back in the car and closes the door with her arm still attached. Surprise! Grab attempt #3. Luckily, he realizes he just has to let go of her arm and tosses the unconvincing prop away. Just when you think things couldn't get any more moronic, the headless-armless-robot strikes yet again, pawing at Chunkypants' face (#4) before falling uselessly at his feet and grabbing his ankles (#5).
"You are soooo cute!"
It's 8:55PM. Will Dr. Chunkypants save the world? Who cares. The world is full of stupid people. A few of them obviously worked on this movie. I mean, the whole 9:00PM deadline is ruined by a little something called "time zones." Either we're supposed to believe that kids in Maine convinced their parents to let them stay up till midnight to watch a commercial, or that the East coast was wiped out three hours ago and nobody noticed. It's so bad that the author of the Halloween III book adaptation changed the giveaway to 6PM PST, 9PM EST. Yeah, nice try buddy.
The moral of this story is simple: Make sure your kids have cool costumes. My mom NEVER just ran out and bought me a rubber mask. She took the time and effort to make sure I didn't look like a dork. Did she succeed? No. But at least snakes never flew out of my head.